May is Hepatitis Awareness Month, a time dedicated to spreading
awareness about the viral infections that cause inflammation of the
liver. It is also a month of opportunity for certain groups heavily
impacted by this condition, such as Hispanics, to learn about the risk
factors and new data regarding these diseases.
Hispanics are considered a group that is high-risk when it comes to hepatitis C, and research earlier in 2014
found the prevalence of hepatitis C among adult Hispanics varied by
background with Puerto Ricans having the highest prevalence, those with a
South American background having the lowest prevalence, and those of
Central American, Cuban, Dominican, and Mexican backgrounds having
intermediate hepatitis C prevalence rates.
“Until now, national health surveys that assessed hepatitis C’s
prevalence among U.S. Hispanics have looked only at Mexican-Americans,”
Mark Kuniholm, Ph.D., lead author of the study, said in a press release
at the time. “As a result, no one knew whether the rates were higher or
lower in other Hispanic populations. It turns out that there’s a
dramatic variation in prevalence, with infection rates ranging from less
than 1 percent in Hispanic men of South American or Cuban background to
11.6 percent in men of Puerto Rican background – a more than 10-fold
difference. This suggests that it’s not appropriate to lump all U.S.
Hispanics into a single, broad at-risk group.”